444 Days Ago, Then

444 days ago, Then

Part One of The DreemPort / Scholar And Scribe
Writing Challenge!

Now

I am amazed at who I was a year plus, ago. Shocked? No, simply amazed. More like, ...amazed at my transformation between then, and today.

Then
Amazing to think on it, that summer, when I just turned eighteen. I was young, woefully inexperienced, and naive. I thought I knew what I wanted. I had no idea. I didn’t know then, what I didn’t know. I was way too young

My plan was simple, get a job at the marina, have fun, and try to learn a little bit about more boats.

All my life, I had been around them, first a small sailboat, small power boats, and now, I wanted to learn more. I was looking at university in the fall, most likely some sort of engineering courses, as that’s what my parents had wanted.

So, with my backpack and a big duffle bag of my clothes for the summer, I marched into the office and met the manager of the marina. He and my dad had arranged this job: dockworker, boat handler, and all around boy Friday! They had sorted my sleeping in a cabin nearby, with a few other dock boys. From that first day, the lady at the office made me blush. She always would.

It was nearly three whole weeks later, and first of June was rolling around the corner, when I was sent by the office to head to the big dock. A newly arriving transient Boat need a slip for two nights. She had two POB (that’s boat speak for Persons On Board! See? I was learning already!) And they were asking for line handlers to assist with docking.

My first month, and already I was being trusted to help with a big yacht docking! I was beyond excited, as the older workers mentioned that these big yachts often tipped the handlers when helping docking.

So, down the docks I went, in my tan shorts and bright white collared shirt. The marina logo proudly displayed on my chest. As I was leaving the office, with a portable radio, I heard the woman at the front desk call, “Little Cub? You really should get a haircut. You know those bangs cover up your deep brown eyes! We poor girls can’t see 'em!” She laughed as she said this. She was always trying to get me to blush, always flirting with me. For my part? I simply had no idea how to handle a thirty something confident, sexy older woman flirting with me. Girls my age didn’t do that. They simply giggled.

Now

Today, walking that same walk, down those docks, to this very same boat, brought back memories of the very first time I laid eyes on her: She was a big beautiful 62 foot Nordhavn. Even the way I walked was different. Back then, I was always in a hurry, unsure of myself, and eager to please. I was an 18 year old Labrador puppy. Small, goofy, and always smiling. My few high school girlfriends made me think I knew what I was doing. I knew nothing!
I was a little past 19 now, and simply a much different man now, compared to the little boy I was then. Oh, not some Old Mansy yet, but, definitely no longer the little bear cub I was then.

There simply was no other way to describe her. Sleek pointed bow, raked bulwarks up front, large boat deck, in front of the Portuguese Bridge, and her forward slanted, raked pilot house windows. In my life, I had never seen a boat like this, Never mind been this close to one! She idled closer and closer to the dock, moving gracefully sideways, her bow and stern thrusters purring and pulsing, pushing her towards me.

Then
If I thought the boat was pretty, well, the woman on the bridge station maneuvering her gently alongside the pier was otherworldly. She had deep mahogany red hair, dark, almost teal blue-green eyes, and the whitest smile I have ever seen. Was was she smiling at me? Or was that laughter? As I was staring at her, I walked right into a power post for one of the other boats along dockside.

My face blushed as red as my tanned, olive Greek skin would allow. My step turned into a slight dance as I tried to recover my sense of balance. I dropped my eyes from the goddess at the starboard helm station. I have no idea what I said or did for the rest of the day, as her smile simply erased all memory in my small brain. I imagine all the blood draining from the big head to elsewhere had something to do with that.

A few days later, and I was called into the office to meet the manager, and a “good client.” I knocked, and spent the rest of the meeting again, blushing at that 10,000 watt smile.

I thought I was being discrete, trying to drink in her perfect, long tanned legs, all the way along her wonderful curves. I couldn’t turn and stare at her face, it wouldn’t be polite. I thought I was truly discrete. I knew nothing

Besides, I kept blushing when I saw her eyes, watching me. I was sooo nervous. There has always been something about a strong, confident older woman. They have always drawn me in, and completely captivated me. Growing up, my crushes have always been my mom's sexy friends. 30 something, fit, sexy, flirty. And Smart. I never cared for the blond bimbos.

My guess? This woman was maybe 35? 40? Smart, sexy, and beautiful. And she was all of that. Self assured, confident, and oh so beautiful. Did I mention, that million megawatt smile? Not just her mouth, but her eyes, smiled, too.

Her tanned feet were in sandals, the bright coral nail polish stood in stark contrast to her tanned, well defined legs. One leg, draped over the next, her calf moving, a slight sway, as she sat. I was stuck watching the curve of her calf. Those toned, curved calves were something to see! I know I was discrete. I knew nothing

I hadn’t heard most of what my boss and her were saying. Finally, I was caught out of my reverie, and tried to follow the thread of conversation.

Her crew mate had an unexpected family emergency, and while she was comfortable with the boat single handed, she preferred to have a second body on board. She asked the manager, her dear friend, if he could find a way to part with one of the dock hands for a “simple little voyage for a couple of months.”

I don’t even remember saying yes, only that it was a done deal and I was hers, to do with as she pleased. While we walked, her and I, around the boat chandlery, shopping for some supplies for me to do a long distance on board cruise, she interviewed me of sorts, and I her. I was in her hands, for my immediate future. Her itinerary was simple: No schedule. For the most part, my side of the interview consisted of me saying, "uhm," "sure," or "ok." To this day, I have no idea what she asked me, or what I said.

We would leave day after tomorrow, for the Southern Islands. The weather chart showed calm seas, and fair winds for the first part of the voyage, and we hoped to make for the trades, in short order. She expected us to make it to Papeete and later, to Marquesas with little trouble.

Again, No schedule, no time table. She asked if I had any interest in perhaps a year sabbatical before attending college, and being her crew for that time. She promised to teach me things I didn’t know I needed to learn, and hoped I would help her to reach her own dreams and goals. I knew nothing

Now
I called again, to the university admissions office and told them, “No, I would not be enrolling after all.’

Then
After a brief call to the university offices, it was all settled, a year off between school and university. I saw her flash her wallet, and before I knew it, I had all-weather gear, extra clothes, boat shoes, and more. The next day had us at the market, and stocking up on food and provisions, for a long trip South.

I learned from the very first moment I said “Yes.” She taught me many things, first, being a dockworker is not the same as working crew on a long distance trawler yacht. I have been camping, and I thought I knew about planning food for a trip. I learned I knew nothing about planning.

Now

I was all packed, except for shopping for some fresh foods. I would take care of that, some two days from now, for last minute supplies. I would never have been able to provision and pack now, without the past year plus, of learning.

Then
I learned that very first day about storing food and preparing and provisioning. She said a couple of months and yet we bought food for twice as along. Some of our dry goods may last us a full year. I learned on day one, that the first thing we did once on board, was toss all the packaging back onto the dock. There’s no room for extra weight and packaging. Cardboard was removed from cereal boxes, and pasta was transferred to food storage bags. Plastic and boxes were broken down for recycling.

I would learn many other things on this boat, and some of it even would be about boating. I thought I knew what I was doing with her… but I soon learned I was wrong about that, too!

We set sail 444 days ago, in a reach wind and following seas.


This is the FIRST PART of a 3 Week Fiction Series Writing Challenge as part of the @dreemport and #scholarandscribe
To learn more, Click HERE For DreemPort Announcement

This is PART TWO of the 3 Part Series Fiction

With Apologies to Songwriters: Michael Curtis / Richard Curtis / Stephen Stills. I based the journey in this story, loosely, on their amazing Song, Southern Cross

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